The guest star is celebrated Scottish percussionist
The concert starts with
Both the 2011 Platt piece and the 2010 Higdon concerto are utterly enjoyable, albeit in very different ways. They show the BPO's skill at creative programming, giving us music that is adventurous but not onerous. That is an excellent thing in an orchestra and one reason that ours is doing so well.
Currie adds his own glamour to the proceedings. He's kind of a hip cat. Saturday, he made a very self-assured, almost cocky, entrance, marching from the wings and clapping Concertmaster Michael Ludwig on the shoulder.
Currie had instruments arrayed all across the front of the stage. The concerto began with him alone, making subterranean sound effects with the marimba. It was a mesmerizing moment, with Currie sounding these soft, weird notes, Falletta standing still, and the orchestra musicians sitting there. Gradually, the BPO's percussionists, along the back wall, began chiming in, with sounds ranging from bells to, eventually, booming timpani. Only after they had had their say did the rest of the orchestra burst forth.
The BPO's percussionists get a workout along with Currie throughout the piece, and you could pretty much take them as his equal. Currie, of course, has his own star quality. A few times he flipped a marimba stick in the air, catching it again in his hand. Focused and wired, he made a show out of dashing from the marimba to the drum set and back again, crossing freely between Falletta and the orchestra.
Always, he was in cahoots with our percussionists, and the exchanges he had with them were warm and witty. The range of sounds was boundless but always musical, from high-treble burbling from the marimba to deep blasts from the orchestra's brass. When the piece ended, the applause was prolonged enough so that Currie rewarded us with a brief but blistering solo on the drum set. What fun.
Platt's "Eurydice" could hardly have been more different. He wrote it for a Swiss orchestra and it is European and traditional in tone, full of ethereal and lovely harmonies. It is the kind of music that floats in the air and could remind you at times of Wagner or Mahler. The cellos and violins play yearning, sensuous lines. The music has a gentle pulse that slows and calms your mind -- transports you, you could say. At the end the piece kind of faded away. It was a wonderful moment and how nice that Platt was on hand to appreciate it. He was called back for several bows.
The symphony of
Moross wrote music for movies and television and was a skilled orchestrator, keeping you charmed with everything from bright trumpet lines to thumps from the basses and bassoons. One movement has a tumbling theme played on the piano with a lot of bright octaves. Another is rich in woodwinds, and the finale is peppy and full of good-natured counterpoint. The influence of
The "West Side Story" dances brought the concert to a splashy close. I am not sure how well this music holds up on the concert stage by itself. I kept wishing for dancers. But seeing the orchestra musicians snap their fingers never gets old. And it was thrilling to hear the thundering "Mambo" magnified by Kleinhans' acoustics, and the percussion shines with its rattles, bangs and whistles. This is one percussive concert. It repeats today at
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